Attorney General findings critical of Illinois dioceses

December 20, 2018

Nearly 700 priests in Illinois have been accused of sexual abuse, according to a state attorney general’s report critical of how Catholic dioceses have handled the allegations.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s report on “preliminary findings” released Wednesday does not state how many of the allegations against 690 priests should be deemed credible or how far back the allegations go. But Madigan said the number of credible allegations are probably exceed the 185 already publicly disclosed by six Illinois dioceses.

Madigan said her office “found dozens of examples where the Illinois dioceses failed to adequately investigate an allegation of clergy abuse it received from a survivor.”

The Rockford Diocese was not immediately available for comment. The diocese release a list that included 15 names on Nov. 14 with at least three of whom previously were assigned to churches in McHenry County.

“The preliminary stages of this investigation have already demonstrated that the Catholic Church cannot police itself,” Madigan said in the release. “Allegations of sexual abuse of minors, even if they stem from conduct that occurred many years ago, cannot be treated as internal personnel matters.” 

A release from Madigan said she and her office “have spoken or met with bishops, lawyers and diocesan representatives from all six dioceses in Illinois: the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield. Madigan’s office also has reviewed thousands of pages of documents and files from each diocese, including diocesan procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of abuse.”

The Diocese of Joliet released a statement saying that it has not been informed by the attorney general that it “failed to investigate any allegation of abuse.”

The report does not differentiate between the Illinois dioceses except to identify which ones have published lists of priests deemed to have had credible allegations made against them.

The Diocese of Joliet since 2006 has published such a list, which appears on its website. The list names 36 priests, one of whom was added this month.

Diocese spokesman said Alex Rechenmacher said Rev. Mark Jendrysik was added because of allegations recently received and it was not related to the attorney general investigation.

The names of 45 more priests deemed to have been credibly accused have surfaced since the investigation started in September, which the report claims “are a direct result of the office’s investigation. With few exceptions, the dioceses have provided no adequate justification for failing to disclose these names before the office’s investigation.”

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